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Archive for June, 2017

Slinking back to normal

June 30th, 2017 at 02:53 pm

I had my post-op visit with the Dr. yesterday. (We ribbed him a little because he looks a lot like Mark Wahlberg.)

Everything is well. Caught at stage 1= lower chance of recurrence, no evidence of spread, if I can make it through the next five years without getting it again, my chances get even smaller as time goes on. As long as I exercise every day and keep my weight in check, my chances are even lower. That's fine, because I do those things anyway.

So, I guess if you're going to get cancer, this is the way to do it-- surgery and no chemo and boom, done. Feels weird to say that!

I am thankful.

My friends and my mom chipped in a lot to help me, hubby, and the boys through it. I'm lucky to have good and caring and genuine people in my life.

Life is good.

And, I'm getting better every day. I still can't comfortably put on my shoes of pick things up off the floor, but I was able to make the bed, clean up, do laundry and vaccuum today. (Phew! Boys sure are bad at housekeeping!)

I'm also cleared to drive, so I did one short trip to the closest grocery store yesterday to stock us up. I realized, these past two weeks, that hubby only buys snack foods-- not ingredients-- when he shops. (As in, cheese and crackers, rather than meat to make a main).

Normally, I go to at least 2 grocery stores for the best prices, but I didn't want to push it. Besides, I needed a nap after one short grocery shopping trip!

Tomorrow, I'm taking the boys to see Despicable Me 3. I think I can swing it, and it'll make the boys feel that mom is more back to normal.

It's been hard on them, seeing me like this, for sure. DS2, age 7, is more heart on his sleeve about his fears and feelings. He had nightmares about my death while I was at the hospital.

DS1, age 9, is more subtle with his feelings, but I can tell he's been upset and upended by all of this. We've all made an effort to talk to him and let him know he can talk to us, and that this is all going to be all right.

Hubby seems mostly okay, but I can tell the stress is getting to him. It's been hard for him to do all of his jobs plus my jobs, but he's been a good sport about it. We have our problems, like any married couple, but he's really got it where it counts. He knows what does and doesn't matter in the big picture of life. And now that I'm up and around, he's less worried.

I guess I didn't realize my boys see me as "action mom" not "lay in bed mom", and they know I'm seriously not feeling well if I am laying in bed.

We did have a (half) laugh about the in-laws though. Any of you who know me know the big issues I've had with them.

When the flowers started getting delivered, every single one, DH would say "Oh, I bet this is from my mom." None of them were. Nor were any of the cards. He was hurt.

They sent me one email during all of this: One sentence asking what the doctor said about the cancer (the science, not how are you feeling?), and then they spent the other 35 lines asking ME to pray for THEM because they're trying to sell a rental property and are worried the contract won't go through.

Sigh. FIL has had cancer 5 times since we got married 15 years ago, and each time they expected both of us to drop whatever we were doing to drive 1000 miles to their house to be with them while they were in the hospital or recovering. Which we did. They also would call us 10 times a day crying about their mortality, and we'd spend hours on the phone trying to soothe them.

Ha. Last year, the in-laws meh reaction would have hurt my feelings or made me angry, but after this past year, I feel like I know them so much better. I don't think they mean any harm, and I don't think they realize how self-absorbed and unconcerned they are with anyone other than themselves. I certainly can't change that. Oh well!

*
In other news, it was payday, and I'm back to paying bills. $350 for car insurance, plus I managed to pay the $1200 in hospital and ER copays we'd put on the card. The freezer was bare bones empty, too, so I spent $257 on local, grass-fed, free-range beef, chicken and pork from a local farmer. They deliver it tomorrow.

As a result, I wasn't able to put any extra money back in savings to make up for the $8000 we took out to replace the roof. Not happy about it, but we're in survival mode right now, so it is what it is. I could have skipped the meat order, but that saves us on the grocery bill long-term, so...

No hospital bills have arrived yet, which is fine with me. Although I don't like knowing what the bottom line will be, if they filter in slowly, we should be able to pay them out of cash rather than savings.

That would be a relief. So, fingers crossed on that!

Recovery is the worst... ;)

June 23rd, 2017 at 03:08 pm

Not really. I know I should be grateful to be alive and all, but boy, recovering from surgery is so boring!! It's a mental willpower game!

I'm not the kind of person who sits around all day. And right now, I can't do much else but sit around all day. I see things that need cleaned up, and I want to clean them, but I'm not physically able to, then I'm annoyed looking at them. Uh, is that normal??

And of course, now that I've stopped taking pain meds (talk about the worst) and am through the mental fog, the kids think I can take them to do this and that, but I can't drive, can't walk very far, can't do anything fun.

Gah!! Will I ever be back to normal??????

I'm alive. (Updated)

June 20th, 2017 at 03:24 pm

I made it through surgery and I am home. I am alive, but feel like I've been hit by a truck. Geesh. Never knew recovery would hurt this much!

Doctor said there were no surprises and it looks like the big C hadn't spread. Lab work/biopsy will be back in a few days.

Thank you all for your well wishes.

UPDATE.

I've been home 3 days and feel much less like I've been hit by a truck, although I am shuffling around the house like a little old man. Stop taking the pain meds because the worst of the pain is over.

Talked to the doc. It was clear cell renal carcinoma, the most common type, and he said they didn't find it in any of the adjoining tissue and he doesn't expect a recurrence.

So all good so far.

Sometimes, you do everything right and it doesn't matter

June 15th, 2017 at 04:09 pm

Well, everyone. This week has not worked out the way I had planned it at all. It's been a life-changing whirlwind, to say the least.

Apparently, at 42, despite the world's most boring medical history -- no prescriptions, no problems, relatively fit, non-smoker, thin, and no family history. I have cancer. Yep. The big C. Kidney cancer.

I'm blindsided, of course. I went to the Dr. on Monday thinking I had a UTI. Turns out it was a kidney stone, so I ended up in the ER. When I thought I was about to go home and it was over, the doctor told me they found cancer or something like it on my kidney. I was admitted. They did more scans. It is cancer.

They say this is good news, that this kidney stone saved my life.

Kidney cancer has no symptoms and it's usually found only when it's spread and it's too late. They say even though the risk factors are obesity and smoking, most of the people who get it don't have either of those. They're like me. No reason to get it, it's just bad luck.

There aren't many effective treatments once it spreads. It's a death sentence. They tell me it hasn't spread, that I won't need chemo, but of course, they won't know that for 100 percent sure until they take it out.

So tomorrow, I go to the hospital to have a kidney removed. I really didn't see it coming. Not at all.

So yeah. Of course I'm scared. I've never had surgery before, and I'm terrified of that. (Hell, I just got my first cavity last fall and I thought that was traumatizing!)

But, I'm even more terrified of dying before my work is done. I have two boys to raise, I have a mom I promised I'd take care of in her old age. I promised to put her to rest. I can't leave before her. I just can't.

So yes. They say it's good news, and I hope that turns out to be true. I really really do.

But in case it's not, I want y'all to know this community has been wonderful these past ten years. You have helped me through a lot of transitions and hard times, and I value all of you. Thank you all!

Wish me luck!

My new favorite charity

June 11th, 2017 at 02:07 pm

With two boys, I'm perpetually accumulating a 'donate' pile of outgrown books, clothes, and toys.

I used to just drop them off at the Goodwill around the corner, but my recent shopping trips there have been eye-popping. (Some of you have already commented on how they're charging new or near-new retail prices for donated items). I know they have to cover rent and all... but....

Thankfully I discovered a local "free store" run by a Methodist church in a high poverty area about 5 miles from my house. It's just like a thrift store-- nice racks of clothes, and items arranged on shelves-- only it's in the church basement, run all by the nicest volunteers, and everything in the store is free for anyone in the neighborhood who is in need. They also offer free meals several times a week.

I'm hooked. I really LOVE knowing that my stuff is going to kids and families who really need it. And they don't have to pay a dime.

Yes. I know donating to thrift shops isn't enough charity to change the world. It's just one part of what we do.

But I love that there's a kid who'll actually have a bike to ride around on this summer because my son donated the one he'd outgrown, and that kid didn't have to walk into a Goodwill, want the bike, but have his mom say no because they couldn't afford the $50 thrift-store price tag!!

Plus, the volunteers are so nice. It's clear they really put their hearts into the venture and that it's making a meaningful difference in their lives and in the community. Good vibes all around!

Apparently, there are free stores in other towns as well, so maybe there's one near you that's worth checking out?

Summer break...YouTube Channel?

June 9th, 2017 at 12:30 pm

well, it certainly is an adjustment having the boys around all day. Boy. They love each other a lot but they sure can fight!

I chalk it up to being so close in age--19 months apart. Lots of competition for resources since they're basically into the same thing.

I have managed so far to keep the summer spending in check. The weekly kid entertainment and food budget has helped! It's cold hard cash that I can show to the kids and they can SEE when there's a lot and when it's disappearing. A couple times, the boys actually opted to eat at home to save the money for ice cream out later! Sniff. So proud.

Next week, the rubber really hits the road, though, because our one busy week (this week) where my oldest has an animation camp will be over. Let the unstructured summer begin.

Now onto YouTube. My kids, when I asked them if they had any new year's resolutions back in January said they wanted to start a youtube channel. I was skeptical, at first, given they're only 7 and 9, but after much thought, we finally let them do it.

So far, it's only a handful of the videos DS1 has made at animation camp. They aren't very good, because he's learning, but... he's totally into it. And he wants to keep making movies, and I want to encourage him to CREATE not just CONSUME!! When it comes to media.

The rules of his channel: kid friendly, no bad words (poop jokes excluded. Come on they're kids!) and no saying their names, school, etc.

We're going to invest the $50 in software and stop-motion cameras after the camp is done so he can keep going.

SO, if you want to watch some bad, but lovingly created lego stop motion animation my boys made, here it is!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFoL2qchWM3Ajwdmz5IEWxg

I want to encourage him to pursue his interests, which right now are making movies, having a channel, and skateboarding!

It's interesting to watch them turn from babies to elementary schoolers. When the boys were born, I always wondered who they were in their hearts and what they'd be interested in. It's only taken nearly a decade to find out!